Road trip from Guadalajara through Colima state
On the 31st March 2011 we took one day trip with a friend from Guadalajara to the state of Colima. Colima is even warmer and more humid than Jalisco, so the fauna is more tropical, everything more green and more trees grow here. I am always amazed at the diversity of the weather, towns and the landscape in the different states of Mexico. On the way to Colima we saw some very interesting places we would not be able to enjoy if not the road trip.
First we crossed LAGUNA DE SAN MARCOS, a dried lake that seems like a desert. A warm place and very white, difficult to look at in a sunny day. It reminded me a bit of the dried lake in Tunis I visited in 1996.
Then from far we could see TAPALPA and CERRO DE TAPALPA (Tapalpa Mountain). Tapalpa is one of the Mexican magical towns where many people from Guadalajara have their holiday villas. A quiet place for relax.
The second dried lake in the area, LAGUNA DE SAYULA, situated just under Tapalpa, is a place where you can see things that are not there, Fata Morgana like in a real desert. The optic vision makes you to see water there but it is all dry. Do not worry, you are not crazy, it is not just your imagination, I assure you everyone else sees it too. It disappears once you get closer.
All the way here in front of you there are two volcanos – Volcán Nevado (Snowy Volcano) which is covered with snow in December and January (not in the hot dry day when we went there, such a shame!). It is 4.200 m above sea level. At a certain point you pass the Snowy Volcano and next to it will appear the other volcano which is still active, Volcán de Fuego – Fire Volcano. We got to see the volcano smoking. It was very impressive to see an active volcano for the first time in my life and from so close. I took like 150 photos just of the volcano :D
In one of the villages here in the mountains, AUTLAN, was born world known singer and guitar player Carlos Santana. The village venerates his music with a statue of him.
Then we passed CIUDAD GUZMAN – the second biggest town in the state of Jalisco with many parks, a pretty traditional town. Jose Clemente Orozco was from here (the one that painted the ceiling in the Palacio Municipal in Guadalajara).
Then we visited COMALA where is settled a magic novel Pedro Paramo written by Juan Rulfo, considered to be one of the best Mexican authors. There is a statue of Juan Rulfo seated on a branch in the central park of Comala so feel free to take a photo like I did. Juan Rulfo was born in a small village San Gabriel close to Comala.
First the Premio of Literature in Mexico used to be named after Juan Rulfo, it is given every year to an author in the world. Now the name was changed. In Comala you have to try the restaurant Don Comalón. There is one just before the entrance to Comala town and another one is in the pure centre next to the main garden. It is one of those restaurants known in Mexico as botanero. It means you pay only for the drinks and they bring you food for free. The more you drink, the more food you get. If they let you choose the meals, do so in order not to waste food you don’t fancy. But forget about healthy food in Don Comalón, all is traditional Mexican so grassy :D
Comala is a white town, almost all the buildings are of white colour (not commonly seen in Mexico) and flat roof (yes, typically used in Mexico.) Many people from Colima come to Comala to relax during weekends. Comala belongs to one of the magical towns (pueblo mágico) where the special rules are used to conserve the magical feeling of the place.
If you are a coffee lover, there are two great places on the road to stop over, both called El Viejo. The first one is situated in a so called Magic Zone where something sci-fi happens. Next to the main road there is another one made for people just to try how magic zone functions.
When you stop the car on the road, leave the neutral and instead of the car going down as you are on top of a little hill, the car will start going backwards and up the hill. It is caused by the magnetic poles of the earth underneath the road, one of them attracting the metal car so it climbs back and upwards. You have to try it.
There are two lakes just couple of kilometres from Comala on the way up to the volcanos. The entrance fee is almost nothing, like 10 pesos per person. The first one on the way is LAGUNA DE CARRIZALILLOS with many places for family picnic, observing ducks or just lying down on the grass in the middle of the forest. The second one a bit further is LAGUNA LA MARIA (with peacocks) which is much bigger. It is one of those lakes you often find in Mexico with green water that is not transparent, but not dirty nor contaminated.
I am wondering why the lakes and rivers in Mexico (apart from those in the state of Chiapas) are of that colour, if it is because of the consistence of the earth here or some water plants underneath the water level or what. Would really love to know the answer as I am not used to this, we have clean transparent water in lakes and rivers in Slovakia and many other European countries. But no one I have asked so far could give me a good answer.
Then after visiting all this, we finally got to COLIMA on the way back to Guadalajara. Colima is the capital of the state with the same name. It is much quiter than big Guadalajara, there are not that many white people but they tend to be more relaxed, go out in shorts, more informally, sit in the park and observe. They smile more and are more open. All the parks and gardens in Colima have free wifi, there are strange green branches where you can sit to surf and even connect the laptop to recharge.Certain afternoons the town orchestra plays in the kiosk of the main square and older people start dancing. It is a nice social event if you sip your afternoon coffee in one of the restaurants next to the garden, for example in Hotel Ceballos where they serve very tasty chicken soup.
From Colima you can continue to the coast to know the Pacific beaches in the state of Colima and not only the mainland. The most known beach town here is MANZANILLO like 1 hour away from Colima. I got there on a different day, not during the road trip. But I did. Manzanillo town itself has not much to offer, no historical monuments or so. The architecture is not the same in the whole town, it has both white and colourful houses and of more floors usually. Anyway, Manzanillo is the biggest Pacific coast harbour in Mexico, with vivid shops in the centre, Jugos Chapala to jump in for some fruit or fruit cocktails, and nice walking area around the port. The enormous blue statue of the pez vela, the symbol of the town, is visible from far away.
Manzanillo is mostly famous for its beaches, such as Playa San Pedrito (with only local people), Las Brisas, Playa Azul, La Audiencia, Santiago, Miramar etc. The town with its 120,000 inhabitants extends along the long bay and for its waves is a good place for surfers. But do not be surprised if you do not see many tourists here. During my 2 days in Manzaillo I saw less than 10 white people all together. And one of them was me. However what you will notice is that Manzanillo is much poorer than other big towns on the Pacific coast in Mexico, with more old half-destroyed buildings and roads, and almost no rich people. But the local people are really nice and friendly.